WILL REJECTION OF HAMAS RESULT IN AL QAIDA’S GROWTH?

Image ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff
In plain simple English, Palestinians are sick and tired of being bullied by outside forces. They have lived now for six decades as a dispossessed nation, for four of those decades under the most brutal occupation of the century.

Their political choices have been rejected both by Israel and the West leading to a situation of political frustration that can and will lead to a ‘backlash’ unseen until now…. one that will surely be regretted by her enemies. One view on this situation was just sent to me, it’s quite an interesting take on the situation….

Narrowing Hamas’ horizons means one thing: Helping al-Qaida

Comment by Khalid Amayreh in Occupied East Jerusalem

The day when Israel, the West and puppet Arab regimes will be regretting their approach to Hamas may not be very far-off.

Israel and its guardian-ally, the US, along with despotic Arab regimes, calculate that the callous blockade of the Gaza Strip and systematic savaging of its 1.5 million human beings will eventually force Hamas to fall on its knees and cause many Palestinians to shun the movement.

However, in light of evidence accumulating through the years, the weakening of Hamas would more likely lead to the consolidation and strengthening of the al-Qaida among Palestinians, both as an ideology and an organization.

The unrelenting savaging of innocent Gazans, coupled with an affronting peace process under whose rubric Israel is building more settlements on occupied Arab land, is only preparing the most fertile ground for the growth of al Qaida.

This is why Osama Bin Laden’s recent statements that al-Qaida will intensify its operations in Palestine should be take very seriously.

Bin Laden seems to know what he is talking about. According to usually-reliable Palestinian sources, al-Qaida succeeded of late in recruiting hundreds of young Palestinians to its ranks, many of them erstwhile members of Hamas and Fatah.

One Gaza journalist described al-Qaida as “ constantly winning more hearts and minds.”

“Al-Qaida is telling potential recruits that the only way for salvation in this world and the hereafter is the way of al-Qaida and that Hamas made a grave mistake when it believed the western lie about democracy and that it is now paying the price for its naivety and blunder.”

In short, the misery that transcends every aspect of life in Gaza is the perfect environment conducive to the consolidation and growth of al-Qaida.

A few weeks ago, I asked Palestinian political analyst, Hani al Masri, if he thought that the weakening of Hamas would be good news for Fatah in the long run.

His answer was interesting.

Masri pointed out that the Palestinian arena would soon become a fertile soil for all kinds of radical organizations, not just al Qaida, since many Palestinians, religious and otherwise, would feel they had nothing to lose from engaging in an extended and uncompromising political program.

“A serious weakening of Hamas would have far-reaching consequences, with the main ramification being the exodus of thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of erstwhile Hamas’ supporters, to al-Qaida.”

Abdul Sattar Qassem, Professor of Political Science at the Najah University in Nablus, believes most Palestinians who might shun Hamas (because of its perceived moderation) wouldn’t join Fatah or similar factions.

“Some of them might join Fatah,” he argued, “ but the vast majority wouldn’t because Fatah’s way of thinking and behavior doesn’t attract them. These people are religious and are well-inculcated in religious doctrine, and it would be difficult for them to join Fatah and retain their religiousness.

“Al-Qaida would be their natural destination.”

Israel, the West and certain Arab regimes think that an implosion of Hamas’s house will enable Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to capitulate to Israeli hegemony without having to worry about a serious Palestinian opposition to his rule.

However, this thinking is misleading and very short-sighted. Today, the Palestinian society is very much experiencing a state of frozen rage resembling the days and weeks preceding the outbreak of the Aqsa intifada in the fall of 2000.

Indeed, a general examination of the prevailing mood in the Main Palestinian street reveals that the outbreak of a new uprising is only a matter of time. The frozen rage can simply go off anytime. Palestinian forbearance seems to have reached its limits.

However, unlike the previous two uprisings, the new intifada would witness the active appearance of a new un-Orthodox player, namely the al-Qaida organization, with its ideological nihilism, fearlessness and unmatched radicalism.

In the short run, an effective, high-profile presence of al Qaida in the occupied Palestinian territories might provide an unprecedented asset for Israel, especially from the propagandistic view point. It would also provide the Zionist state with a ready-made, plausible and effective excuse to take even more draconian measures against the Palestinian population.

Hence, it is not out of question that Israel, for its own strategic reasons, may well be interested in seeing al-Qaida gain a certain foothold in the West Bank and Gaza.

But in the long run, Israel, too, stands to lose. Israel can’t fight al-Qaida using the same tactics it has been employing against Hamas. Al-Qaida pays very little attention to public opinion and has nothing to lose in terms of a civilian apparatus—because it has none. Moreover, al-Qaida has no MPs or political activists whom Israel can round up and throw in jail, nor does it have charities and other institutions which the Israeli army can close down.

Indeed, al-Qaida, a secret and secretive organization, would be much more immune to Israeli retaliations than is Hamas, a generally pragmatic organization that pays attention to the balance of power and wouldn’t cross certain red lines in its low-combustion confrontation with Israel.

This means that al-Qaida would be freer and bolder than Hamas in attacking mainly Israeli civilian targets, using suicide bombings.

Some Palestinian leaders predict that should al-Qaida succeed in gaining a real foothold in the occupied Palestinian territories, not only Israelis would be targeted, but Palestinians as well, probably including Hamas itself.

“We are talking about a nihilistic organization which believes in open-ended confrontation until the Day of Judgment,” one Hamas leader intimated to this writer.

“Al Qaida views all those opposing, even differing with its ideology, as enemies that ought to be liquidated. I wouldn’t even rule out the possibility that al-Qaida would detonate car-bombs in the heart of Palestinian cities in order to spread terror in the hearts of those who might dare oppose its ways.”

Jordan, which has large concentrations of Palestinians, also stands to sufferer immensely as a result of the mushrooming of al-Qaida in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Then, numerous Palestinians wouldn’t stand idle watching their brothers in faith across the River Jordan being scuttled and decimated by Israel, the US and treasonous Arab regimes that are at Israel’s and America’s beck and call. Hence, suicide bombings and similar acts of terror might then turn Jordan’s present political and economic stability upside down.

Egypt, too, would suffer, and no amount of security precautions would prevent determined and frustrated al-Qadia militants from targeting the soft-underbelly of the Egyptian economy, namely Egypt’s tourism industry.

This is more than just a prophecy of doom and gloom, for the writing is already on the wall for those who are willing to see.

This week, the collective Palestinian frustration reached unprecedented levels when hundreds of helpless Palestinian pilgrims returning from Mecca, having performed the Haj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia, were kept stranded like livestock at the Egyptian port of Nwebie’.

The Egyptian authorities reportedly were still refusing to allow them to return to their homes in Gaza via the Rafah border crossing. The pilgrims refuse to go through an Israeli-controlled border-crossing, fearing arrest and torture and lengthy imprisonment for their suspected affiliation with Hamas.

Meanwhile, Israel keeps murdering Palestinians in large numbers and is expanding Jewish settlements while PA leaders, like wide-eyed imbeciles, are watching helplessly, not knowing what to do, apart from imploring Condoleezza Rice to pressure Olmert to respect the Annapolis spirit.

Well, who is then pushing the Palestinians to join the ranks of al-Qaida?

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